Richland Elections Office Seeks Money for New Machines

7:22 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Richland County's Election and Voter Registration Commission says it wants to start the process of buying new voting machines.

The group met Friday morning to discuss its budget proposal for the county.

Members voted to ask for $40,000 to purchase 10 new machines.

Commissioner Herbert Sims says manufactures no longer make the units Richland currently uses, so the county would get refurbished machines.

"We're gonna go out and start seeking those right now, we don't know how many are out there, so we have to kinda make a start out of it so we don't get caught short handed," said Sims.

Commission attorney Steve Hamm says the county needs at least 18 machines to legally cover the county.  Under state law the county should have one machines for every 150 voters. 

Hamm says Richland has about 244,000 registered voters and about 958 machines.  He says they need 976.

Hamm told the commission the number of machines currently on hand would cover any upcoming municipal elections.

Members says starting with 10 will put less of a strain on the county budget and put them on the right track.   They also requested a report on the functionality of all the machines owned by the county.

"As we look forward to the general election, we hope that through incremental purchases, and assuming that there'll be no further changes to the law as it now stands, we would then have a sufficient number of machines the quota needed," said Dr. Jasper Salmond, Interim Director of the Richland Elections Office.

The proposed budget will still have to recieve approval from the Richland County Council.

Commissioners also discussed the number of precincts in the county and their sizes.

Hamm told the group the smallest precinct had 399 voters, while the largest had about 5,000.  He says no precinct should exceed 1,500 voters under state law.

He suggested the commission wait and receive guidance from the county's legislative delegation and general assembly before spending money to create new precincts.

The general assembly would have the power to create new precincts or change limits on voters assigned to certain precincts.

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